Rice Paper 10th Anniversary: featuring Joy Kogawa, Scott McIntyre & Gim Wong

Ricepaper 10th Anniversary Celebrations: featuring Joy Kogawa, Scott McIntyre & Gim Wong

Ricepaper staffers greet guests at the door – photo Meena Wong

It was a love-fest as former editors and writers, + many featured
authors and performers + our favourite city councillors and community
organizers, all attended the celebration.  The Buzz about the Rice Paper Magazine 10th Anniversary Party,
organized by Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, picked up speed late in
the week.  Numbers confirmed on Thursday night practically doubled
by Saturday night, as attendees “borrowed” extra chairs and tables from
the Tinseltown Food Court.

Writers Fiona Lam and
Lydia Kwa sat at a table next to Faye Leung, Vancouver Librarian Ross
Bliss stated “I want to meet writers!” and was quickly introduced to
lots.  UBC professor Glenn Deere and wife Faye sat at the Joy
Kogawa table.  Writer and Artist Janice Wong, along with Capilano
College instructor and writer Crawford Killian joined friends at Scott
McIntyre's table. Citizenship Court Judge (and former City Councillor)
Sandra Wilking sat nearby Opera singer Grace Chan, and across from
writer SKY Lee. City councillor Ellen Woodsworth chatted with SFU
writer-in-residence Daphne Marlatt. City Councillor Anne Roberts
brought her mother Barbara.  Kelly Ip chatted with Lt. Col. Howe
Lee.  Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre
producer Joy Lam hung out with CBC writer Charlie Cho, and scripting
partner Grace Chin.

Elwin Xie (ACWW Director) and Joyce Lam (VACT producer) share a smile and long friendship – photo Meena Wong

Joy Kogawa signs a book for one of the many event guests – photo Meena Wong

Whoops of joy were heard as it was announced that Vancouver city
councillor Sam Sullivan had secured his mayoralty bid to represent the
NPA party, as he made a surprise appearance fresh from the NPA
counting.  Even COPE city councillors Anne Roberts and Ellen
Woodsworth rushed to give him heartfelt congratulations.

And in the middle of this sat our featured guests: Joy Kogawa, Scott
McIntyre and Gim Wong.  Host and ACWW Vice President Don
Montgomery introduced each starting with Kogawa.  Joy said that
this year started off with the surprise of having Obasan selected for
the Vancouver Public Library's One Book One Vancouver program, and
described how wonderful the republishing of new versions of Emily Kato
(Itsutka) and Naomi's Road have been plus the delight of seeing Emily's
Road transformed into an opera by the Vancouver Opera.

Joy Kogawa holds
her ACWW Community Builders Award while Todd Wong (ACWW vice-president)
speaks about efforts to save the Kogawa Homestead – Event host Don
Mongomery (ACWW vice-president) looks on – photo Meena Wong

Joy called on me to speak about the developments of the previous 60
hours, as she had learned about the planned demolition of the Kogawa
and the efforts mobilized to save it.  I described the
seemingly impossible contradiction that while this week when Joy is
being celebrated at the Rice Paper Anniversary Dinner, Word On The
Street, Vancouver Public Library and Vancouver Opera… the proposed
demolition represents polar opposites that create a dynamic tension,
giving even greater emphasis on both positive and negative
aspects.  But it is because of her being celebrated, that reaction
to the proposed demolition, is even more sharply responded to – witness
the way that the Globe & Mail picked up on the story, that it was
announced and spoken about at the Vancouver Arts Awards by both Mayor
Larry Campbell and city councillor Jim Green.  And by the evening,
Scott McIntyre was volunteering his influence and suggestions to help
save the house. “One Million Dollars should be easy to raise,” he told

Scott McIntyre
tells the audience about the pionneering nature of the books by Paul
Yee, SKY Lee and Jim Wong-Chu that he has published – photo Meena Wong

Scott McIntyre was jovial in his speech.  He spoke about the
achivements of Douglas McIntyre Publishing, in putting out Salt water
City by Paul Yee, Disappearing Moon Cafe by SKY Lee, and Many Mouthed
Birds edited by by Jim Wong-Chu and Bennett Lee – each the first of
their genres, pioneers in Asian Canadian literature.  Then Scott
said, “We haven't done enough.”  He talked about the fact that we
are all one family – no longer separated by clan or race
distinctions.  Chinese-Canadian literature and Japanese-Canadian
literature is all Canadian literature – We are all the same family, as
he spoke about how his own daughter-in-law is Asian, and they are all
one family.  I was so moved by his talk, that at the end of the
evening, I invited him to speak the same words for the 2006 Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dinner in January.  “I'd be delighted,” was his reply.

Gim Wong recalls
the sacrifices he made and the discrimination that he faced by choosing
to enter Canada's armed forces in WW2 – photo Meena Wong

Gim Wong, stood up shakily, his 82 years betraying his youthful heart
and still innocent demeanor.  Honest in his gratitude, and
eloquent in his politeness, Gim talked about how proud he is to be a
Canadian, and how he came to enlist and train in the Canadian armed
forces, when nobody wanted Chinese in the army, airforce or navy. 
“We couldn't even vote,” he exclaimed.  He described his unselfish
attitude, willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the country of his
birth, and how he has continued to sacrifice his time unselfishly to
champion for redress, for the Chinese head tax. “They told me it
couldn't be done,” he said of his motorcyle “Ride for Redress” from
Victoria's Mile 0, to Ottawa and Montreal.  His bravado had
revealed itself when he had threatened to ride his Harley up the steps
of Parliament to confront Prime Minister Paul Martin.  His son
Jefferey had accompanied him on the ride, and looked after him. 
This week, the Georgia Straight's “Best of Vancouver” selected Gim Wong
for the “Gutsiest Ride against Racism.”  I had talked with Gim
many times throughout the evening, and knew that he was both humbled
and tired by the evening's celebration.  The applause touched him

Great appreciation to all the ACWW directors, Rice Paper staff and
volunteers for putting on such a grand event.  Special thanks to
organizers Jim Wong-Chu, Don Montgomery, Michelle Sui, and Jenny Uechi.

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